Kasich signs Ohio bargaining bill

March 31, 2011 at 9:36 PM
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COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 31 (UPI) -- Gov. John Kasich signed what he called an Ohio taxpayers' victory Thursday evening, a bill adding new restrictions on the power of public employee unions.

Union leaders announced plans to take the issue directly to the voters through a referendum, The Columbus Dispatch reported. They need at least 230,000 valid signatures within 90 days to get the bill on the ballot in November, a move that would delay the law's enforcement.

SB5 restricts collective bargaining rights for public employees and requires them to pay at least 15 percent of health insurance costs. It also bans "fair share" dues arrangements where employees who choose not to join the union must still pay enough to cover bargaining costs.

Kasich announced plans to sign the bill in a campaign fundraising e-mail Thursday. He asked for small contributions to "help us continue to return the balance of power."

"There is a reason that the union bosses opposed these changes; because it strips power from the union leaders and returns it to the taxpayers and workers," the e-mail said.

Union leaders said they are already signing up volunteers for the petition drive.

"There is so much energy right now that it's going to be easier to get people to circulate petitions," said Dennis Willard, a spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Ohio. "We have a lot of people who are willing to work very hard to get this on the ballot because they feel so strongly about this."

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